is it that He Himself withal should set upon His own official chair men who were mindful rather to enjoin-(but) not likewise to practise-sanctity of the flesh, which (sanctity) He had in all ways recommended to their teaching and practising?-first by His own example, then by all other arguments; while He tells (them) that "the kingdom of heavens" is "children's; "
But next we must seek to understand this: the disciples came to Him, as disciples to a teacher proposing difficult questions, and making inquiry, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Let us seek to understand, from what is written, to the best of our ability, who this is. "For Jesus called a little child,"
Such accordingly, without doubt, dwell in the kingdom of God, because they defiled in nothing the commandments of God; but they remained like children all the days of their life in the same mind. All of you, then, who shall remain stedfast, and be as children,
therefore, no one will perish; for although any of them be tempted by the most wicked devil, and commit sin, he will quickly return to his Lord. I deem you happy, I, who am the messenger of repentance, whoever of you are innocent as children,
What the expression means the Lord Himself shall declare, saying, "Except ye be converted, and become as little chidren, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; "
not naked of possessions, for that were a trivial and common thing; but, as a just man, he departs naked of evil and sin, and of the unsightly shape which follows those who have led bad lives. For this was what was said, "Unless ye be converted, and become as children,"
" "Except ye become as these little children, ye shall not enter," it is said, "into the kingdom of heaven."
And on the disciples, striving for the pre-eminence, He enjoins equality with simplicity, saying "that they must become as little children."
" But again, seeing the Gospel supposes two ways-the apostles, too, similarly with all the prophets-and seeing they call that one "narrow and confined" which is circumscribed according to the commandments and prohibitions, and the opposite one, which leads to perdition, "broad and roomy," open to pleasures and wrath, and say, "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, and standeth not in the way of sinners."
On the question arising among the apostles, "which of them should be the greater," Jesus placed a little child in the midst, saying, "Whosoever, shall humble himself as this little child, the same shall be the greater in the kingdom of heaven."
It is necessary, then, for him who has turned away from the desires of this world to humble himself not simply as the little child, but, according to what is written, "as this little child."
has humbled himself like the little child which Jesus showed, not being exalted because of vainglory, nor puffed up on the ground of wealth, or raiment, nor elated because of noble birth, in particular are they to be received and imitated in the name of Jesus, who have been converted as the Word showed, like the little child which Jesus took to Him; since especially in such the Christ is, and therefore He says, "Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. "
Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones.
Melius esset, ut ei mola circumponeretur, et in mari demergeretur, quam ut unum ex meis perverteret.
Such a one is esteemed unjust before God and holy men, as affording occasion of scandal to many of the newly baptized, and to the catechumens; as also to the youth of both sexes, to whom a woe belongs, add "a mill-stone about his neck,"
Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones."
ng truly become as the little children, are capable of being caused to stumble; each of whom falls so far short of the likeness to them, as he falls short of the disposition of children towards the passions, of which we have spoken, to whom we ought not to give occasions of stumbling-block; but, if it be otherwise, he who has caused him to stumble will require, as contributing towards his cure, to have "an ass's millstone hanged about his neck, and be sunk into the depths of the sea."
But if, also, there is a difference in those who are deemed worthy of the Holy Spirit, as believers receive more or less of the Holy Spirit, there would be some little ones among those who believe in God who can be made to stumble: to avenge whose being made to stumble the Word says, with reference to those who had caused them to stumble, "It is profitable for him that an ass's millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea."
But that the woe is worse in the case of him who causes to stumble, than in him who is made to stumble, you may prove by the passage, "Whoso shall cause to stumble one of these little ones which believe in Me, it is profitable for him,"
will seem to be in harmony with the saying, "Whoso shall cause one of these little ones to stumble,"
Before all things, it is befitting that we should know both that He Himself and His ambassadors foretold that there must be numerous sects and heresies,
if she was wounded in her heart by thy beauty, and youth, and adorning, and fell in love with thee, thou wilt be found guilty of her transgressions, as having been the occasion of scandal to her,
Why then should not we bear with those whom, God suffers? Why should not we bear with fortitude the wrongs that they do to us, when He who is almighty does not take vengeance on them, that both His own goodness and the impiety of the wicked may be known? But if the wicked one had not found Simon to be his minister, he would doubtless have found another: for it is of necessity that in this life offences come, `but woe to that man by whom they come; '
"Be not, my brethren, distressed by those things that have been done, but give heed to the future: for what is passed is ended; but the things which threaten are dangerous to those who shall fall in with them. For offences shall never be wanting in this world,
" And just as then, those who led vicious lives, and put other people astray, were condemned and cast out, so also even now the offending eye is plucked out, and the foot and the hand, lest the rest of the body perish in like manner.
Oh wickedness! Once did the Jews lay brands on Christ; these mangle His body daily. Oh hands to be cut off! Now let the saying, "If thy hand make thee do evil, amputate it,"
But if any one in the whole body of the congregations of the church, who because of his practical girls has the name of hand, should change and become a hand causing to stumble, let the eye say to such a hand, "I have no need of thee," and, saying it, let him cut it off and cast it from him.
And so it is well, that he who can become the eye of the whole body should be worthy of Christ and of the whole body; but if such an eye should ever change, and become a stumbling-block to the whole body, it is well to take it out and cast it outside the whole body, and that the rest of the body without that eye should be saved, rather than that along with it, when the whole body has been corrupted, the whole body should be cast into the hell of fire.
The diverse sounds (he adds) are those which give form to that Aeon who is without material substance and unbegotten, and these, again, are the forms which the Lord has called angels, who continually behold the face of the Father.
But indicating "the angels" as the Scripture says, "of the little ones, and of the least, which see God," and also the oversight reaching to us exercised by the tutelary angels
Matt. 18:10 - NIV, NAB - in Clement of Alexandria Who is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?
"Despise not," He says, "one of these little ones; for their angels always behold the face of My Father in heaven."
inately and fortuitously, but by a most appropriate and just decision of God, who arranged them according to deserts, in accordance with His own approval and judgment: so that to one angel the Church of the Ephesians was to be entrusted; to another, that of the Smyrnaeans; one angel was to be Peter's, another Paul's; and so on through every one of the little ones that are in the Church, for such and such angels as even daily behold the face of God must be assigned to each one of them;
from all evil; and the angels of the little ones in the Church, who are appointed to watch over them, are said always to behold the face of their Father who is in heaven,
Let the learned Greeks say that the human soul at its birth is placed under the charge of demons: Jesus has taught us not to despise even the little ones in His Church, saying, "Their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven."
and his "angel," who "always beholds the face of his Father in heaven,"
Let the bishop, therefore, extend his concern to all sorts of people: to those who have not offended, that they may continue innocent; to those who offend, that they may repent. For to you does the Lord speak thus: "Take heed that ye offend not one of these little ones."
But He meant us to fear that God whose angels they are who are the angels of the least of the faithful amongst us, and who stand in heaven continually beholding the face of the Father
For these reasons you will, then, attend to the word, "Do not despise one of these little ones,"
hing like the following, which would say, that as it is possible for a man to change from unbelief to faith, and from intemperance to temperance, and generally from wickedness to virtue, so also it is possible that the angel, to whom any soul has been entrusted at birth, may be wicked at the first, but afterwards may at some time believe in proportion as the man believes, and may make such advance that he may become one of the angels who always behold the face of the Father in heaven,
After this, in order to establish our conception of the little one which we have brought forward, it will be said that we need no command about "not despising" in the case of the great, but we do need it in the case of the little; wherefore it is not merely said, "Do not despise one of these," pointing to all the disciples, but "one of these little ones,"
Seal certum est, Dominum quoque "venisse" ad ea, "quae aberraverant."
Wherefore, if the image of a "son" is not entirely suitable to a Jew either, our interpretation shall be simply governed with an eye to the object the Lord had in view. The Lord had come, of course, to save that which "had perished; "
to save the things which were perishing,
desire to save the things which were perishing,
Thus she, passing from body to body, and suffering insults in every one of them, at last became a common prostitute; and she it was that was meant by the lost sheep.
But do thou, like a compassionate shepherd, and a diligent feeder of the flock, search out, and keep an account of thy flock. Seek that which is wanting;
[As for the exposition of the matters relating to "the hundred sheep," you may consult the homilies on Luke.
since "it is not pleasing in the sight of your Father that one of these little ones should perish."
and "So it is not the will of My Father in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
wherefore it is said, "Whoso shall cause to stumble one of these little ones, and, "It is not the will of My Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
in the Gospel;
wisely observing his mode of life, what, and of what sort it is; and in case thou findest him a man of veracity, do according to the doctrine of our Lord,
But the following seems to me to have been overlooked by both of them, namely, the words, "Thou hast gained thy brother."
And attend carefully to the first passage, "If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother," and to the second passage, which is literally, "If he hear thee not, take with thyself one or two more, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
one too, because he is not a Christian; in order that he might not, after the manner of a Christian, seem to require correction again and again, and "before two or three witnesses,"
three witnesses every word shall stand: "
The chief priests answered, saying: Our Scripture says that every word shall be established by two or three witnesses.
And these things will be gathered together, when we also read and know, and remembering them, compare at a fitting time things spiritual with spiritual, not comparing things that cannot be compared with one another, but things which admit of comparison, and which have a certain likeness of diction signifying the same thing, and of thoughts and of opinions, so that by the mouth of two or three or more witnesses
In ordinations of the clergy, beloved brethren, we usually consult you beforehand, and weigh the character and deserts of individuals, with the general advice.
ith them only in proportion as the fear of God is in them; yet, even although needlessly, either my solicitude or my love persuaded me to write these things to you, that no commerce should be entered into with such; that no banquets nor conferences be entertained with the wicked; but that we should be as much separated from them, as they are deserters from the Church; because it is written, "If he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
In addition, moreover, the Lord establishes it in His Gospel, and says, "But if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican."
But if any one hardens himself, "tell it to the Church: but if he neglects to hear the Church, let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican; "
And, again, "If he refuse to hear them"-manifestly, the witnesses who have been taken-"tell it," he says, "to the church; "
and He does not say what he will suffer if he does not hear the church, but He taught that if he refused to hear the church, then he who had thrice admonished, and had not been heard, was to regard him for the future as the Gentile and the publican.
For to you, O bishops, it is said: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
the keys committed to the Church, whereof it is said: "Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven."
Whence the Saviour Himself says in the Gospel, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
For if I in this brief space of time, have enjoyed such fellowship with your bishop-I mean not of a mere human, but of a spiritual nature-how much more do I reckon you happy who are so joined to him as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father, that so all things may agree in unity! Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses
on him as the Church does on the Lord Jesus, and the Lord does on God and His Father, that so all things may agree in unity! Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses
We say that "if two" of us "shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of the Father" of the just, "which is in heaven; "
if only our prayers, our groanings, and our tears, knock at the door; and with these we must be urgent and persevering, even although prayer be offered with one mind.
And again, "I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that you shall ask, it shall be done for you of my Father which is in heaven."
For the Lord, when He would urge unanimity and peace upon His disciples, said, "I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth touching anything that ye shall ask, it shall be given you by my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them; "
Matt. 18:19 - NIV, NAB - in Cyprian Treatise XII Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews
Also in the same place: "Verily I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth concerning everything, whatever you shall ask it shall be given you from my Father which is in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them."
Quinam sunt autem illi "duo et tres, qui congregantur in nomine Domini, in" quorum "medio" est Dominus?
is the church;
inasmuch as, wherever there are three, (that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, ) there is the Church, which is a body of three.
Where two (are), there withal (is) He Himself.
(The Spirit) combines that Church which the Lord has made to consist in "three." And thus, from that time forward,
For if he had thought that the Son of God was only there, where was the visible body of Jesus, how could he have said, "There stands in the midst of you One whom ye know not? "And Jesus Himself, in raising the minds of His disciples to higher thoughts of the Son of God, says: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of you."
Nor let any deceive themselves by a futile interpretation, in respect of the Lord having said, "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
If it be not possible to assemble either in the church or in a house, let every one by himself sing, and read, and pray, or two or three together. For "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there all I in the midst of them."
Then the Word repeating that the agreeing of two on the earth is the same thing as the agreeing with Christ, adds, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name."
And do not let this also pass unobserved, that He did not say, where two or three are gathered together in My name, there "shall I be" in the midst of them, but "there am I,"
And when Peter had put the question whether remission were to be granted to a brother seven times, "Nay," saith He, "seventy-seven times; "
"seventy-seven times? "
Matt. 18:21 - NIV, NAB - in Archelaus Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes
And He indeed did not deal with them as Moses did, putting the severities of the law in force, and granting indulgence to no man for any offence; but He declared that if any man suffered an injury at the hands of his neighbour, he was to forgive him not once only, nor even twice or thrice, nor only seven times, but even unto seventy times seven;
But if you shall not regard nor assist them, I also will bear a mind like your own against you, and I will judge you by your own laws.
It is also a duty to forgive each other's trespasses-not the duty of those that judge, but of those that have quarrels; as the Lord determined when I Peter asked Him, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? "He replied, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but until seventy times seven."
then shall they be forgiven all the sins which in former times they committed, and forgiveness will be granted to all the saints who have sinned even to the present day, if they repent with all their heart, and drive all doubts from their minds.
Chapter V.-Sin Never to Be Returned to After Repentance.
and against His temple? For, as far as you are concerned, such as are chargeable with offence against you personally, you are commanded, in the person of Peter, to forgive even seventy times sevenfold.
for the Lord has given thee authority to remit those sins to thy brother which he has committed against thee as far as "seventy times seven,"
But since as units the tens and the hundreds have a certain common measure of proportion to the number which is in units, and Jesus knew that the number might be exceeded, on this account, I think, that He added to the number seven also the seventy,
Only, I have said these things with the view of referring his return when he comes with his kingdom to the consummation, when he commanded the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him that he might know what they had gained by trading, and from a desire to demonstrate from this, and from the parable of the Talents, that the passage "he who wished to make a reckoning with his own servants"
And compare the words, "And when he began to make a reckoning,"
And he makes a request that he be not sold along with his own, but may continue to abide in the house of the king; wherefore he fell down and worshipped him, knowing that the king was God, and said, "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all; "
and the king being moved with compassion released him and forgave him all the debt, but the servant did not wish even to pity his own fellow-servant; and the king before his release ordered him to be sold and what was his, while he who had been forgiven cast him into prison. And observe that his fellow-servants did not bring any accusation or "said," but "told,"
But to him who had hid the money, entrusted to him to be given out at interest, and had given it back as he had received it, without increase, He said, "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou oughtest to have given my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received mine own." Wherefore the useless servant "shall be cast into outer darkness."
in the law of their very entreaty let consideration be had for the time; let it be with downcast entreaty, with subdued petition, since he also who is besought ought to be bent, not provoked; and as the divine clemency ought to be looked to, so also ought the divine censure; and as it is written, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me,"
" After the supply of food, pardon of sin is also asked for, that he who is fed by God may live in God, and that not only the present and temporal life may be provided for, but the eternal also, to which we may come if our sins are forgiven; and these the Lord calls debts, as He says in His Gospel, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me."
If our God and Lord, who rules over all things, and has power over all His creation, does not remember evil against those who confess their sins, but is merciful, does man, who is corruptible and full of sins, remember evil against a fellow-man, as if he were able to destroy or to save him?
But it must further be said to those whose view it is that no one is delivered by Jesus to the tormentors,-pray, explain to us, good sirs, who is the king who delivered the wicked servant to the tormentors? And let them also attend to this, "So therefore also shall My heavenly Father do unto you; "
Go to the Chronological List of all Early Christian Writings
Please buy the CD to support the site, view it without ads, and get bonus stuff!